Saints stay clear of drop zone after stalemate

Brackley Town's Jake Phillip and AFC Fylde's Matty Hughes battle for possession at St James Park
Brackley Town's Jake Phillip and AFC Fylde's Matty Hughes battle for possession at St James Park

Only if Brackley Town stay up will boss Kevin Wilkin know if it was one point gained in Saturday’s stalemate with AFC Fylde.

But if Saints do lose their Vanarama National League North status then it will be two points dropped after Wilkin’s side just edged Saturday’s clash with third-placed Fylde at St James Park. Saints remain out of the relegation zone on goal difference thanks to Saturday’s point and a clean sheet but it could have been all three had they shown more composure in the box.

Steve Diggin returned on the bench against the promotion chasers and how Saints could have done with their top scorer in the opening stages when they took the game to the visitors.

Saints failed to take advantage of some early hesitancy in the Fylde defence, David Moyo opted not to shoot and Jake Phillips blazed over. Moments later the lively Moyo did well to set up Glenn Walker who cut inside before firing just over the bar.

Fylde offered little in the opening stages with Caspar Hughes having their only worthwhile effort which went wide.

Liam Slade could only fire into the side-netting from Joe Clarke’s deep corner as Saints continued to look the side most likely to break the deadlock in a first half of few chances.

Saints picked up from where they left off after the restart and Clarke saw his fierce free-kick superbly saved by Ben Hinchcliffe before Ben Tilney cut inside and fired wide.

At times, the game looked more like a mid-table affair than one team chasing promotion and the other trying to stay up. And that was in part down to the way Saints kept Fylde in check.

Sam Finley finally forced Sam Hornby into action with the Saints keeper making his first save of the game with an hour gone. That was the signal for Fylde to step up a gear and they began to get on top but still they lacked any real threat in the final third.

Sensing three points were still on offer, Wilkin threw on Diggin hoping the Saints’ top scorer could provide the breakthrough.

But it was Clarke who came closest late on when his free-kick produced another decent save from Hinchcliffe.